The academic emphasis at Claremont McKenna is on political science and economics, but students can take classes offered by other members of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium that includes Pomona College, Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College and Pitzer College. CMC itself is small, with around 1,300 undergraduate students. The college's core curriculum includes some first-year seminars and a senior thesis, but it also requires students to complete three semesters of physical education within their first two years, though there are a variety of course options to help fulfill the requirement, among them breakdancing and surfing.

Construction is currently underway for a new state-of-the-art sciences center, which is scheduled to open in 2025 and will provide students with “first-hand experiences engaging in scientific discovery,” according to the school. Claremont McKenna students often go on to have lucrative careers, with median earnings a decade after enrollment of $97,200. Well-known alums include former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Michael Jeffries, the former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch.

In their downtime, CMC students can relax at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, a college club where students and faculty gather to dine and listen to guest speakers ranging from Condoleezza Rice and Karl Rove to Jonathan Franzen and Ta-Nehisi Coates.